Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Grief Of The King Over The Loss Of His Seer (Part 39); Assyrian

(And His Prayer To The Moon-God, Who Answers His Prayer With A Vision)

The King weeps bitterly with flowing tears
Above his seer when from him disappears
The last faint breath; and then in deepest woe
He cries: “And through that desert must I go?
Heabani, thou to me wast like the gods;
Oh, how I loved thee! must thou turn to clods?
Through that dread desert must I ride alone;
And leave thee here, Heabani, lying prone?

Alas, I leave thee in this awful place,
To find our Khasisadra, seek his face,
The son of Ubara-tutu, the seer;
Oh, how can I, my friend, thus leave thee here?
This night through those dark mountains I must go,
I can no longer bear this awful woe:
If I shall tarry here, I cannot sleep.

O Sin, bright moon-god, of yon awful deep!
I pray to thee upon my face, oh, hear
My prayer! my supplications bring thou near
To all the gods! grant thou to me,–e’en me,
A heart of strength and will to worship thee.

“Oh, is this death like that the seer hath dreamed?
Perhaps the truth then on his spirit gleamed!
If Land of Silver Sky is but a myth,
The other dream is true! e’en all he saith!
Oh, tell me, all ye sparkling stars,
That wing above thy glorious flight,
And feel not Nature’s jars;
But grandly, sweetly fling thy light
To our bright world beneath serene,
Hath mortals on thee known
Or viewed beyond,–that great Unseen,
Their future fate by gods been shown?

“Oh, hear me, all ye gods on high!
To gods who love mankind I pray,
Despairing, oh, I cry!
Oh, drive these doubts and fears away!
And yet–and yet, what truths have we?
O wondrous mortal, must thou die?
Beyond this end thou canst not see,
O Life! O Death! O mystery!

“The body still is here, with feeling dead!
And sight is gone!–and hearing from his head,
Nor taste, nor smell, nor warmth, nor breath of life!
Where is my seer? Perhaps, his spirit rife
E’en now in nothingness doth wander lone!
In agony his thoughts! with spirit prone!
In dread despair!–If conscious then, O gods!
He spake the truth!–His body to the clods
Hath turned! By this we feel, or hear, or see,
And when ’tis gone,–exist?–in agony!

To Hades hath he gone? as he hath thought!
Alas, the thought is torture, where have wrought
The gods their fearful curse! Ah, let me think!
The Silver Sky? Alas, its shining brink
He hath not crossed. The wrathful gods deny
Him entrance! Where, oh, where do spirits fly
Whom gods have cursed? Alas, he is condemned
To wander lone in that dark world, contemned
And from the Light of Happy Fields is barred!
Oh, why do gods thus send a fate so hard,
And cruel? O dear moon-god, moon-god Sin!

My seer hath erred. Receive his soul within
To joys prepared for gods and men! Though seer
He was, he immortality did fear,
As some unknown awakening in space.
Oh, turn upon him thy bright blessed face!
He was my friend! O moon-god, hear my prayer!
Imploring thee, doth pray thine Izdubar!”

And lo! a vision breaks before his eyes!
The moon-god hides the shadows of the skies,
And sweeps above with his soft, soothing light
That streams around his face; he drives the night
Before his rays, and with his hands sweet peace
He spreads through all the skies; and Strife doth cease!

A girdle spans the Heavens with pure light
That shines around the River of the Night,
Within the circling rays a host appears!
The singers of the skies, as blazing spheres!
Hark! Hear their harps and lyres that sweetly sound!
They sing! Oh, how the glowing skies resound!

“O King of Light and Joy and Peace,
Supreme thy love shall ever reign;
Oh, can our songs of bliss here cease?
Our souls for joy cannot restrain,
Sweep! Sweep thy lyres again!

The former things[1] are passed away,
Which we on earth once knew below;
And in this bright eternal day
We happiness alone can know
Where bliss doth ever flow.”

[Footnote 1: Literally, “the former names,” which appears on a fragment of the epic translated by Mr. Sayce. See Smith’s “C.A. of Gen.,” p. 259, which he has rendered “the former name, the new name.”]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; Alcove II, Tablet VII (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

Epic Of Ishtar And Izdubar: The King Buries His Seer In The Cave (Part 40); Assyrian

Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar: Heabani Reveals Two Wonderful Visions To The King (Part 38); Assyrian

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